Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Love Styles: A Cross-Cultural Study of British, Indian, and Portuguese College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Love Styles: A Cross-Cultural Study of British, Indian, and Portuguese College Students

Article excerpt

Love is among the most fundamental aspects of the experience of being human. After decades of neglect, science has become infatuated with love. In recent years there has been a major resurgence of interest within social psychology in the subject of love in general (Hendrick & Hendrick, 2002; Myers & Shurts, 2002; Neto, 2005). One result of this interest has been the emergence of a number of theories or typologies of love.

Recent work on romantic love has focused on the multidimensional complexity of the phenomenon. Early formulations by Hatfield and Walster (1978) distinguished passionate love from companionate love. Passionate love involves a short and intense relationship whereas companionate love involves a close and enduring one. Clark and Mills (1979) differentiated exchange relationships (based on interpersonal economics) from communal love (based on altruistic motives). Sternberg (1986) proposed a three-dimensional model of love involving passion, intimacy, and commitment. Hazan and Shaver (1987) extended Bowlby and Ainsworth's attachment theory to adult romantic relationships, and also proposed a three-dimensional model.

These efforts to develop theories of love have enriched our knowledge of how Americans view romantic love. Even if a scarcity of cross-cultural data is typical of social psychology research in general (Smith & Bond, 1998), the scarcity is particularly problematic in the area of romantic love, which may well be notably linked to culture (Neto et al., 2000). Gender differences in the area of romantic love would also seem to be highly linked with culture (Sprecher et al., 1994). Thus, this study was an attempt to enrich our understanding of human close relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, using Lee's typology of love styles (Lee, 1973, 1988).

Lee's Colors of Love Model

Working from a position that love is not a natural behaviour, but something that is learned, Lee (1973) identified six socio-ideologies or styles to reflect the diversity of human ways of loving. He regarded these styles as a natural component of learning and experience, arguably influenced by culture and society. In developing a typology of the different ways that people love each other, Lee ( 1973) used the metaphor of a color wheel on which to place his many "colors" of love. As with color, there were primary love styles and secondary, and even tertiary, mixed. Attention has focused on six relatively independent styles of love. The primary styles included Eros (passionate, romantic love), Ludus (game-playing love), and Storge (friendship-based love). Compounds of two of each of the primary styles formed the three secondary styles: Pragma (practical love, a compound of Storge and Ludus), Mania (possessive, dependent love, a compound of Eros and Ludus) and Agape (altruistic love, a compound of Eros and Storge). Lee contended that love styles are dynamic and can change with time, reflecting changes in the person as they internalize particular cultural values and ideals.

In Lee's typology, Eros represents the emotionally intense individual who is looking for a psychologically intimate and open relationship as well as a passionately expressive one. The erotic lover has strong ideas about the type of person she or he desires for a partner and attempts to achieve a close and intimate relationship when she or he finds that person. Storge is a type of love involving a more slowly developing friendship. Shared interests, trust and acceptance acquired over time seem central to this style of love. Hatfield and Walster's (1978) passionate and companionate love concepts could be viewed as close equivalents of, respectively, Eros and Storge. Pragma is the love style in which the suitability of the partner to one's own position and place in the community is central. The pragmatic lover is looking for similarities of interests and background that are likely to make the other a good partner for life. …

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